More than 200 people attended the fifth annual Family Day Retreat June 22 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Troy. The theme was “Love, Live in Me.”

People of all ages — families and individuals — traveled from throughout Vermont and from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Maine and Canada — to pray, learn and have fun at one of the Diocese of Burlington’s northernmost parishes.

Mark Mallett, a Canadian singer/songwriter, Catholic evangelist and author, was the keynote speaker. He called upon his listeners to become apostles of love so they can effectively witness the Gospel.

Referencing words of Pope Benedict XVI, he said the flame of faith is dying out in the world, but “the victory we have over the world is our faith.”

Mallett said the way to conquer fear is to “open your heart to God who is love” and that “when you become an apostle of love, you’re no longer afraid … to witness.”

He encouraged Catholics not to be afraid to follow Jesus and to stop calculating what they would lose by following Him and counting what they would gain. “Jesus is our everything,” he said. “You can’t have everything if there is another god in your heart.”

Witnessing to the Gospel “begins with how we live,” Mallett said, telling his listeners to pray the Holy Spirit will “set you on fire and burn away your fears … to make the name and life of Jesus Christ known again.”

Ted Quizon of Ascension Church in Georgia attended the Family Day Retreat with his wife and three children. “This is one of the best birthdays,” he enthused. He enjoyed spending his birthday with his family and others who share their faith as well as listening to Mallett. He said he would take from the retreat a greater understanding of the importance of being in a community with people of the same faith, spending time with family and “seeing the faith alive.”

Going to such events, he added, helps him and his wife to foster the faith of their young children.

There were special faith-based activities for children during the day as well as separate presentations for men and for women. The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist were offered, and there was Eucharistic Adoration, the recitation of the rosary, a Corpus Christi procession and Benediction.

Theresa McAvinney of Sacred Heart Parish again served as retreat coordinator. “I am a woman of action and pure love for the Lord with a burning desire for the salvation of souls,” she told Vermont Catholic.

The retreat, she said, gives people of all ages an opportunity for a “tangible encounter with the love of God,” and a benefit is that “the whole parish is becoming invigorated.”